With Data Privacy Regulations Growing More Stringent, Why Are Brokers Profiting More Than Ever?
The internet at large is clamping down on data privacy. Or, at least, it’s in the process of clamping down – sometimes succeeding and sometimes struggling to implement the robust framework needed to combat the exploitation of user data.
These days, data represents its own currency – a hugely valuable asset that drives tailored marketing campaigns, improves business intelligence, and enhances customer experiences. In these instances, it can seem rather innocuous. Many consumers recognise the power and value of personalised marketing and prefer to have more tailored experiences, after all. But it’s dangerous to think that data is a mutually beneficial asset. Data can also be used for identity theft, financial fraud, corporate espionage, extortion, and ransom attacks.
It’s something of a Janus-face and, fortunately, policymakers around the world have been growing more and more attuned to the dangers of an unregulated data market. The most notable movement against data brokers occurred with the introduction of GDPR – stringent regulations to which businesses had to adhere (and quickly), or risk massive and often ruinous fines.
But, even in the face of GDPR and state laws (for instance, the CCPA, or California Consumer Privacy Act), data brokers are seeing tremendous success. Why is that, and how does it all end?
According to Statista, 57% of netizens don’t believe they can protect their own data.
It’s understandable why such pessimism prevails – after all, the sheer number of data breaches and scandals over the past few years seems to push autonomy further out of the picture. But there are ways to erase personal data and opt out of data brokers – all it will take for widespread change is a little more education from policyholders.
A Lack of Unity
The US is a few steps behind Europe in terms of implementing a stringent data privacy framework. GDPR has been around for a few years now, but the US is still playing catch-up, with no federal law in place to stop brokers from gathering massive volumes of user data for profit.
TikTok, for instance, represents an ongoing concern in the US, where many are worried about the scope the Chinese parent company has for harvesting data on its users. But, as the Washington Post points out, this is only indicative of a much wider issue – something that cuts to the very core of America’s data privacy problem.
There simply aren’t enough safeguards in place. While, yes, regulations are spreading across the country and a number of states have passed (or intend to pass) regulations that protect their citizens, a problem of this magnitude requires major, high-stakes legislation from the very top of the chain and not from its individual links.
Profitability Begets Creativity
Where there’s smoke, there’s a fire, and where there is scope for earning massive amounts of money through underhanded and elicit practices, there’s bound to be plenty going on. Data brokers have to be wiser than they were, say, five years ago – and a lot wiser than they were 10 years ago – but there are still ways to bypass regulations and laws, particularly when the prize is so promising.
It’s no surprise that data brokers are engineering new ways to win that prize and circumvent the blockades. The US needs to respond to that creativity with some of its own, and fast.